September 8, 2020

Fodor's Travel


The Perfect Weekend Getway: The Palm Beaches From Tampa

While the uber-moneyed barrier island of Palm Beach (one of the wealthiest enclaves in the U.S.) is the most famous beach of the Palm Beaches, there’s much more to this stretch of Florida’s Gold Coast than most visitors know. Palm Beach County covers some 47 miles of Florida’s Atlantic Coast, from Jupiter in the north to Boca Raton down south. Whether you plan to just kick back in the sand at a grand dame beach resort or are feeling more intrepid—after all, you can snorkel an incredible underwater trail here to spot sea horses and explore Japanese gardens, too—you’ll be surprised at all you can pack into a weekend in the Palm Beaches.


Palm Beach International Airport, in West Palm Beach, is the closest airport to the Palm Beaches. Fort Lauderdale International Airport is roughly 50 minutes south. From Tampa, it takes roughly 3.5 hours to drive east across the belly of the state and south to get to the Palm Beaches.


On arrival, set your sights on Palm Beach for your first lunch in the area—but give stuffy (though gorgeous) Worth Avenue a pass in favor of the more fun vibe at The Royal Poinciana Plaza, where you can settle in at the bistro called Sant Ambroeus for food every bit as delicious as in Italy (no, seriously—if you order just one thing, make it the charcuterie platter).

A fun way to get the lay of the land in Palm Beach while doing some mansion and yacht-spotting is by renting a bike at the Palm Beach Bicycle Trail Shop to pedal the island’s roughly five-mile-long Lake Trail. It skirts the Intracoastal Waterway (referred to as “the lake,” or Lake Worth Lagoon, in these parts) and winds all the way south to Worth Avenue, too. You can either turn in your bike after or pedal across the Flagler Memorial Bridge to neighboring West Palm Beach, where you’ve likely earned a sweet reward at Sloan’s, a whimsical ice cream parlor that’s been around forever and packs the house for fun flavors like Ginger Snappy and Almond Joy.

Finish the day by letting someone else do the driving with a sunset cruise aboard Hakuna Matata Catamaran Cruises, during which you’ll nearly be able to peer into the windows of incredible waterfront mansions and super yachts while waiting for the setting sun to set the skies above the Intracoastal Waterway aglow.

Once back on dry land, there are tons of restaurants around nearby Clematis Street to explore for dinner, including the cozy little Spanish tapas joint, Tapeo Tapas, where a tabla mixta covers the appetizer bases with a spread of Jason Serrano, chorizo, salchicon, and olives.

By: Terry Ward
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